Before I launch into an “ Oh my god – it was wonderful! “ style review, I would like to offer a brief back ground detailing how I eventually ended up on this truly fabulous cruise. Two years ago I decided that for my birthday I wanted to go whale watching; also I have always wanted to visit Alaska having seen the documentaries and been in awe of the place, so I started a search to see whether it was possible to do both at the same time. I didn’t know exactly what I did want, but I knew exactly what I didn’t want. The thought of a large cruise ship with thousands of people on board stopping for shopping in ports at every available opportunity, having to fight my way through crowds to get anywhere, and having to dress up for dinner made me feel nauseous. A few years ago my boss went on a small ship cruise to Baha to see grey whales, and I knew this was the type of thing that I would be comfortable with, so the search began and I narrowed it down to four companies, but eventually chose Uncruise. Their website is full of excellent information, photos and videos, and when I eventually pick myself up off the floor after seeing their prices (let’s be realistic about it!) I eventually decided these were the people I wanted to go with. We chose the luxury cruise on the Safari Endeavour as my husband and I are not the active outward bounds type, but we still wanted some activity options. We booked the cheapest cabin available and resigned ourselves to the fact that we would be living in a small cupboard for a week.
A few months before the cruise I received the final paperwork, and a kit list. Not being the very out-doors type I didn’t have very much of the required equipment for this cruise and I couldn’t afford to spend loads of money on stuff I would only wear for one week, so I improvised with pretty much everything. Something that isn’t explained very well on the website is that as soon as you board the ship all passengers are issued with any waterproof essential kit they might need; wellingtons, a pair of waterproof trousers that fit over the top of your other trousers and a water proof coat if you don’t have one, so please don’t rush out any buy loads of stuff as all the essentials you need are available to you free of charge. Two of the most useful items I took with me were thermal leggings and thermal t-shirts, both purchased from E Bay at a very low cost. The leggings were very comfortable under the water poof trousers, which are not quite so comfortable over jeans or hiking trousers, and the thermal t-shirts I wore during all activities under another t-shirt, fleece/sweat shirt, and coat. I wore 3-4 layers most days. Also, when I received the pre-cruise paperwork I discovered that a gratuity for the crew of 5-10% of the total cruise cost would be expected – please be aware of this, as it does add to the overall cost of your cruise.
Sunday 27 July arrived, and we walked down to the harbour in Juneau and saw the Safari Endeavour sitting waiting for us. The welcome we received from the crew was so enthusiastic it nearly knocked me over, and the first wonderful surprise was our cabin. It was not a small cupboard as I had expected, but two full size single beds with the space between being a little wider than the doorway. The beds were high enough to have a large storage area underneath for boots, shoes and luggage. Towards the back of the cabin was a good sized table and opposite was the private bathroom with corner shower and decent quality toiletries in a wall mounted dispenser. This was a small bathroom, but well designed. The whole of the rear wall was wardrobes and large deep drawers, so there was more than enough storage space for all your stuff.